Burying our Sins in our Backyards? Our Sin being Hidden in Plain Sight? Buried, Burying, Unburying Achan’s Treasures? Joshua 7:16-26

Joshua 7:16-26Amplified Bible

The Sin of Achan

16 So Joshua got up early in the morning and brought Israel forward by [h]tribes, and the tribe of Judah was selected. 17 So he brought the family of Judah forward, and he selected the family of the Zerahites; then he brought the family of the Zerahites forward man by man, and Zabdi was selected. 18 And he brought his household forward man by man; and Achan, son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, was selected. 

19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I implore you, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him [in recognition of His righteous judgments]; and tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me.” 20 So Achan answered Joshua and said, “In truth, I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel, and this is what I have done: 21 when I saw among the spoils [in Jericho] a [a]beautiful robe from Shinar (southern Babylon) and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I wanted them and took them. Behold, they are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and they saw the stolen objects hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. 23 And they took them from the tent and brought them to Joshua and to all the sons of Israel, and [b] spread them out before the Lord. 24 Then Joshua and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the [royal] robe, the bar of gold, [c]his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and everything that he had; and they brought them up to the Valley of Achor (Disaster). 25 Joshua said, “Why have you brought disaster on us? The Lord will bring you disaster this day.” Then all Israel stoned them [to death] with stones; afterward they burned their bodies in the fire. 26 Then they piled up over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Achor (Disaster) to this day.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Soon after they fell into sin Adam and Eve tried to hide themselves in the thickest of bushes and hide their guilt behind coverings made of fig leaves.

Later because of their acute awareness of the magnitude of their sin they also vainly attempted to run as far away as they could, hide themselves from God.

Adam and Eve’s son Cain thought he could hide the guilt of shedding his brother’s innocent blood by claiming that he was not his brother’s keeper.

Joseph’s brothers attempted to cover the magnitude of their sin of selling him into slavery by staining his clothing with an animal’s blood and crying, telling their father he had been devoured by a wild beast – causing severe distress.

Moses tried to bury his guilt in the sand after he killed an Egyptian.

King David also tried to bury the truth, cover up the depth of his sin of adultery by having Bathsheba’s husband Uriah the Hittite killed at the front of battle.

For a short time it seemed as though he had believed he had successfully buried the truth about what he had done, from the eyes of those who could cause harm.

But as we know in His time, God brought the magnitude of those sins into light.

Time and time again God’s revealing and convicting Word tells us about people who went to lengths, tried to cover up or bury their sins in one way or another.

I have just given you but a few examples of this but know there are many more.

In this Old Testament Lesson from the Book of Joshua we meet another person in a long line of “quiet” sinners who thought they could hide and secret their sins from all of the prying eyes of those around them and even from God!

In the story of Achan we hear how he treasured the spoils of mankind, carried them away in secret, literally tried to bury his sins in the ground under his tent.

But this is much more than history lesson.

In the Word of God to which we will now direct our attention for our devotional today – we will also see the depths of deceit in ourselves in the ancient story.

We too have attempted to cover up our sins and bury them in the deep recesses of our hearts and minds – moving quietly into our backyards and bury our sins.

As we read in the early verses of the Creation story, this the devil has often led us to believe the delusion we can, we will, cover up secret sins or private guilt.

Like Achan we may can hide much and then think our sin will not be uncovered.

But we need to remember we can hide whatever we want from the prying eyes of man but nothing can be hidden from God and the guilt of our sins still stands.

So today I pray God the Holy Spirit will lead each of us to consider one question:


I. Stop hiding your sins and confess them to God

II. Trust that Christ was punished for your sins

Disaster had descended upon the Israelites.

After their spectacular victory at Jericho, where the walls came tumbling down, they were defeated by the people of Ai.

From a human perspective it should have been an easy victory against an insignificant city.

But the victorious army that Joshua sent against the Aites was soundly beaten and thoroughly embarrassed.

They were sent fleeing in retreat.

The Children of Israel were devastated by this defeat.

We are told in the verses leading up to our Old Testament Lesson that the “hearts of the people melted and became like water.”

Joshua was also left stunned and confused.

With his face in the dirt he poured out his discouragement and disappointment to the LORD in prayer.

The LORD then spoke to Joshua explaining what had happened.

“Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have secretly put them with their own possessions.”

During the previous battle against Jericho somebody had taken some of the things that were devoted to the LORD.

God had commanded that everything be destroyed.

God went on to explain the result of the magnitude of this secret transgression.

“That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is solely devoted to destruction.”

Our Hebrew [Old] Testament Lesson begins with the consecrated process that Joshua used to discover, uncover the one who had sinned against the LORD.


In order to first discover and then reveal the guilty party all the Israelites were to appear before the LORD and he would start selecting first one tribe and then one clan, then one family, and then finally one person – to shed the spotlight.

Our text tells us,

“16 Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was taken. 17 The clans of Judah came forward, and he took the Zerahites. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was taken. 18 Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.”

Try to imagine what Achan was thinking as his guilt was slowly being revealed!

He could not run away and hide from what he had done.

Although he had buried the evidence of his sin under his tent God knew it was there. And very soon all his fellow Israelites would also know what he had done.

Like a runaway freight train God’s justice was bearing down hard upon Achan.

It probably came as a relief to Achan when Joshua said,

“My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give him the praise. Tell me what you have done; do not hide [bury, secret] it from me.”

Joshua asked Achan to confess the wicked thing he had done.

God obviously knew what he had done and he couldn’t hide it from God, Joshua encouraged Achan to give God glory, even high praise, as he confessed his sins.

“20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

Just as he had tried to secretly carry away the plunder, then secretly bury the evidence of his sin deep under his tent so too he had attempted to bury the guilt of the magnitude of his sin deep within the most secret recesses in his heart.

In his confession Achan exhaled all guilt to Joshua.

He breathed out the facts about how sin had taken hold of him and what he had done. He no longer tried to hide his sin. He stood up, confessed fully to Joshua.

Once again so that Achan’s story means more to us than a Bible History lesson let’s get back to the question that these verses of Scripture set before us.

“What’s buried deep under yours and mine Achan’s tent?”

“What’s spoils, treasures of sins, is buried deep in our own hearts “backyards?”

Is it a craving of yours or mine own body or a lust of your or mine own soul?

Perhaps you and I have buried a guilty pleasure or a secret addiction that you and I believe is unknown to anyone but you and me.

Are you and I being unfaithful in thoughts, words, or actions to our wedding vows? At our places of employment have we found a seemingly innocent way to “hold back our efforts,” cheat or steal? Are we living a lie at school or at church?

As we answer these questions, “What’s buried under our Achan’s tent?” let’s be brutally honest with ourselves and even more brutally honest with Father God.

Give all of our praise and honor and glory and HONESTY unto our Creator God!

Perhaps making confession We know He sees all we do and He knows all we see.

May we have the holy boldness to dare to echo King David’s words recorded in 

Psalm 69:5, “You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from you.”

In the full presence of God, as Joshua stood before Achan, encouraged Achan, in Christ, we are also encouraged to stop hiding our sins and confess them to God.

Psalm 32 NASB

Blessedness of Forgiveness and of Trust in God.

A Psalm of David. A [a]Maskil.

32 How blessed is he whose wrongdoing is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered!
How blessed is a person whose guilt the Lord does not take into account,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit!

When I kept silent about my sin, my [b]body wasted away
Through my [c]groaning all day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My [d]vitality failed as with the dry heat of summer. Selah
I acknowledged my sin to You,
And I did not hide my guilt;
I said, “I will confess my wrongdoings to the Lord”;
And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah
Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You [e]in a time when You may be found;
Certainly in a flood of great waters, they will not reach him.
You are my hiding place; You keep me from trouble;
You surround me with [f]songs of deliverance. Selah

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
I will advise you with My eye upon you.
Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding,
Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check,
Otherwise they will not come near to you.
10 The sorrows of the wicked are many,
But the one who trusts in the Lord, goodness will surround him.
11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones;
And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.

Today, God the Father offers all of us who are tired of running away from our secret sins and guilt that accompanies them a chance to confess them to him.

Like Achan let’s stop hiding our sins and confess them to God.

What’s buried under your tent?

What’s buried under my own tent?

What sins have you been “secretly hiding” “secretly burying” in your backyard?

What sins have I been “secretly hiding” “secretly burying” in my backyard?

Our best forever friends may not know about them, our family may be unaware of them but rest assured, God the Father, Son and Spirit, sees all and knows all.

Whatever sins you and I have tried to “successfully” hide from God and bury away from the prying eyes of all others will not and cannot long stay hidden.

Tell the gut-level truth to God.

Make NO excuses –

Tell NO Lies –

Do not blame others, do not even try to “hide” the shovel behind your backs.

Simply say, “God, for too long I have hidden these sins from you and others. I will no longer hide them from you. I will confess the secrets I have buried.”

II. So how did things end for Achan, his family, friends and the Israelites?

I suppose the story does not end the way we might expect nor with the outcome for which we might hope in the year of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ 2022.

The consequences for Achan’s sins fell squarely on him and his family.

After Joshua sent men to retrieve the evidence of Achan’s guilt buried in the ground under his tent justice was carried out.

“24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold wedge, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The LORD will bring trouble on you today.” Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. 26 Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor (disaster) ever since.”

Achan received the punishment that God had said would befall anyone who did what he had done.

If we are honest with each other we probably have to admit that we are left wondering why things ended this way.

If Achan confessed his sin why was he still punished?

His confession seems sincere.

Isn’t the LORD a merciful and gracious God?

Isn’t the Lord slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love?

Perhaps it would be best to not to dig too deeply into the justice of a holy God.

From Achan’s example the Israelites learned how serious God is about sin.

If he doesn’t punish the guilty then he is not just.

Achan received the consequences for his actions and all the Israelites learned a brutally harsh and brutally sobering lesson from it.

Now as we look at the sins we have tried to bury under our tents should we be afraid to confess them?

If God is just won’t we be punished as Achan was?

The consequences for our sins should be even worse than what Achan experienced.

What do I mean by that?

Sin brings eternal punishment.

We should be unceremoniously removed from God’s presence forever in hell!

We should die eternally.

Imagine if our secret sins were laid out today for everyone to see.

And with God and everyone else looking at them we realized there is no escape—no place to hide.

Isaiah 53:5-10 NASB

But He was [a]pierced for our offenses,
He was crushed for our wrongdoings;
The punishment for our [b]well-being was laid upon Him,
And by His wounds we are healed.
All of us, like sheep, have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the wrongdoing of us all
To [c]fall on Him.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off from the land of the [d]living
For the wrongdoing of my people, to whom the blow was due?
And His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10 But the Lord desired
To crush Him, [e]causing Him grief;
If He renders [f]Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His [g]offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the [h]good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.

As the stones of God’s righteous anger are about to strike us right now, as they struck Achan in those most ancient of days, our Savior Jesus takes our place.

Jesus takes our guilt and punishment upon himself.

That’s the truth we remember so vividly during Lent.

We again follow Jesus to the cross to see his sacrifice for us.

Our trust that Christ was punished for our sins is strengthened, by His stripes we were healed.

God said to Adam and Eve, “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:17)

God’s justice is stricter than any justice human courts have demanded.

It is absolute and unbending. The LORD said, “The soul who sins is the one who will die.” (Ezekiel 18:4)

In Romans 6:23 the Apostle Paul declared that “the wages of sin is death.”

There is one demand under God’s justice–complete holiness.

There is one sentence under God’s justice for not being holy.

That is eternal death—eternal separation from God in hell.

If we break God’s commandments only one time we must be condemned.

James tells us, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10)

Thank God that our Savior has kept the “whole law” of God in our place and suffered the consequences of our disobedience.

He was punished in our place to that we ourselves can escape punishment.

Today we have the opportunity to walk away from the sins that control us.

Unlike Achan we can live another day to serve God out of thankfulness and love.

The power of mercy and forgiveness in the believer’s life was expressed well by an anonymous author in a poem called:


“Do not struggle alone, in fear and distress / As if there’s no hope, just your ugliness. Our Lord offers grace, not judgment deserving, / He longs for your love and your soon returning.

THERE’S FORGIVENESS. It’s tough cutting through the darkness of sin / Striving for answers, His favor to win. He stands with His arms outstretched and extended / To hold and restore you, just mercy intended.

THERE’S FORGIVENESS. Why search other places your answers to find / To fill the vast void and touch the divine. Lay down your excuses and learn to confess / Your sins and your shame to His holiness.

THERE’S FORGIVENESS. His promise is certain, “I will forgive,” / Cleansing and freedom, it’s yours to live. From no other source full joy will you find. / He is your victory, your peace so sublime.

THERE’S FORGIVENESS. There’s no one beyond the reach of His arm / To pick up and pardon, to rescue from harm. Return to the Master of your faith’s beginning. / Give Him your all, and you’ll find yourself winning.

THERE’S FORGIVENESS. Yes, friends in Jesus, there is forgiveness. For whatever you and I have buried under tents of our lives there is forgiveness because Christ was punished for our sins.

As we “look under our tent” so to speak we will find sins that we try to hide from God and perhaps others.

Like Achan we are led to confess them and not to hide them any longer.

And today our story has a different ending than Achan’s.

The punishment for our sins fell on Jesus.

We are able to live a new life as he empowers us to overcome our secret sins.

Glory be to the Father an to the Son an to the Holy Ghost.

As it was in the beginning, is now an ever shall be,

Worlds without end!

Amen, Amen and Amen.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Eternal Father, you know my past, present and future, nothing is unknown to you. Eternal Father, ever loving and ever Merciful Son, strong to forgive, strong to save, When I worry about what is ahead of me, please calm my fears with the knowledge that you go before me. Holy Spirit, I will never be alone because you will always be with me. You have promised that you will not fail me or forsake me and you are faithful to keep all your promises. Take away my fear and replace it with faith in your unending love. Through Jesus Christ, our Savior. Gloria Patri, Alleluia! Amen.


Author: Thomas E Meyer Jr

Formerly Homeless Sinner Now, Child of God, Saved by Grace.

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